AS THE cacao industry struggled to reach its major markets due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, a local cacao processor urged people to use locally-produced tablea or cacao products.
Cacao City Marketing Cooperative (Cacao City) chair Kenneth Reyes-Lao said that since people are gradually starting selling cakes and pastries because of the quarantine measures, incorporating cacao ingredients from local processors will increase the local demand which will not only help them but also the cacao farmers.
"Kay daghan na man naga bake, I would encourage more people nga tablea ilang gamiton or local chocolate companies ang ilang kuhaan og source [of their ingredients] versus imported. Kung daghan mag participate, daghan mag support, makatabang na. (Since many people are baking, I would encourage them to use tablea or source their ingredients from local chocolate companies rather than imported ones. It will be a big help if many will support the products)," he said.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic caused a decline in their sales since retail stores have been closed or had limited operations during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) periods.
"Maybe naay positive sa sales katong naa sa supermarket pero even that, naa gihapon impact overall kay dili man tanan naa sa supermarket (Sales may have been positive at the supermarket but the impact is still there because not all products of local cacao processors are available)," he said.
He said the suspension of flights has also contributed to the slowing demand for local cacao products since one of their main markets are tourists.
Because of this, he said cacao farmers were forced to sell their beans at a lower price just to dispose of their accumulating inventories.
"The farmers, wala naman silang warehousing. Ang beans mag accumulate and ang farms wala man silay capacity to store nga dugay. Murag maigo lang na pag harvest, ibaligya na. Or i-harvest, i-dry, then ibaligya nila og cheaper price para lang madispose ang beans (The cacao farmers do not have warehouses to store their beans and as it accumulates due to slower demand, they are forced to sell them at a cheaper price to be able to dispose it immediately)," he said.
He added that the worst thing that can happen is when farmers decide to cut their cacao trees and switch to the more profitable crop during the pandemic.
"I hope lang nako is dili ta maabot didto. Wala pa man nila gicut. Ang fear lang nako is kung madugay ang health crisis (It has not happened yet but I fear that they will change their crops if the health crisis will stay longer)," he said.
Cacao City currently has about 20 members affiliated in nine cacao brands namely Malagos Chocolate, Cacao Culture, Rosario's Chocolate, Sikwate de San Isidro Cacao and Beyond, Cacao de Davao, Nutrarich Davao Fine Tablea, Xocolate by Federation of Cooperatives in Mindanao, and Wit's Sweets and Savouries.
The Cacao City concept store located at the Pasalubong Center has temporarily stopped its operation and is set to transfer soon at the new building of the Davao City Investment Promotions Center along Palma Gil Street.